The 2019-20 PGA TOUR season gets going again at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. Defending champion Xander Schauffele is joined by past champions Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson, while 15 first-time winners make their debut at the winners' only event. The last three winners at the Sentry Tournament of Champions went on to finish in the top five of the FedExCup standings that same year - will history repeat itself in 2020?
Winning a PGA Tour event provides a tour card for a minimum of two years, with an extra year added for each additional win with a maximum of five years. Winning a World Golf Championships event, The Tour Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, or the Memorial Tournament provides a three-year exemption. Winners of the major championships and The Players Championship earn a five-year exemption. Other types of exemptions include lifetime exemptions for players with twenty wins on the tour; one-time, one year exemptions for players in the top fifty on the career money earnings list who are not otherwise exempt; two-time, one year exemptions for players in the top twenty-five on the career money list; and medical exemptions for players who have been injured or are going through a family crisis, which give them an opportunity to regain their tour card after a period out of the tour. In 2015, the PGA Tour added a clause which would freeze an exemption for those required to perform military service in their native countries in response to South Korea's Bae Sang-moon having to leave the Tour for that reason. At the end of the season, the person leading the FedEx Cup earns a five-year exemption.
Due to increases in prize funds over the years, this list consists entirely of current players. Two players on the list, Vijay Singh and Davis Love III, are eligible for PGA Tour Champions (having respectively turned 50 in February 2013 and April 2014). Both have lifetime exemptions on the PGA Tour for 20 wins and 15 years on the Tour, and Love has won a tournament on the main PGA Tour since turning 50. The figures are not the players' complete career prize money as they do not include FedEx Cup bonuses, winnings from unofficial money events, or earnings on other tours such as the European Tour. In addition, elite golfers often earn several times as much from endorsements and golf-related business interests as they do from prize money.
Invitational: These events are similar to the regular ones, but have a slightly smaller field and do not follow the normal PGA Tour exemption categories. Invitational tournaments include the Charles Schwab Challenge, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the RBC Heritage, the Memorial Tournament. The tournaments usually have an association with a golf legend, or in the case of the RBC Heritage, a famous course. The table below illustrates some of the notable features of the exemption categories for these events:
Since 2013, 50 Korn Ferry Tour golfers earn privileges during the next PGA Tour season, which now begins the month after the Tour Finals. The top 25 money winners over the regular season (i.e., before the Tour Finals) receive PGA Tour cards, as do the top 25 money winners in the Finals. The priority position of all 50 golfers on the PGA Tour is based on money earned during the Tour Finals, except that the regular season money leader shares equal status with the Finals money leader. In addition, a golfer who wins three events on that tour in a calendar year earns a "performance promotion" (informally a "battlefield promotion") which garners PGA Tour privileges for the remainder of the year plus the following full season.
On March 20, 2012, the tour announced radical changes to the tour's season and qualifying process. Further details of these changes relating to the Fall Series were announced on June 26, with the remaining details announced on July 10. One of the final details received a minor tweak, effective for the 2013 season only, on September 11.
The Fall Series saw major changes for 2009, with one of its events moving to May and another dropping off the schedule entirely. It returned to its original start date of the week after the Tour Championship. Then, as in 2008, it took a week off, this time for the Presidents Cup. It then continued with events in three consecutive weeks, took another week off for the HSBC Champions (now elevated to World Golf Championships status), and concluded the week after that.
The Players Championship is the only event, apart from the majors and the World Golf Championships, which attracts entries from almost all of the world's elite golfers. It is the designated OWGR flagship event for the PGA Tour and awards 80 OWGR points to its winner. Only major championships can be awarded more OWGR points. For purposes of the FedEx Cup standings, The Players has had an identical point allocation to that of the majors since the Cup was instituted in 2007.
After several months, a compromise was reached in December: the tour players agreed to abolish the APG and form the PGA "Tournament Players Division," a fully autonomous division under the supervision of a new 10-member Tournament Policy Board. The board consisted of four tour players, three PGA of America executives, and three outside members, initially business executives.
The PGA Tour's broadcast television rights are held by CBS Sports and NBC Sports, under contracts most recently renewed in 2011 to last through 2021. While it considered invoking an option to opt out of its broadcast television contracts in 2017, the PGA Tour ultimately decided against doing so. Golf Channel (which, since the acquisition of NBC Universal by Golf Channel owner Comcast, is a division of NBC Sports) has served as the pay television rightsholder of the PGA Tour since 2007, and its current contract will also expire in 2021. Under the contracts, CBS broadcasts weekend coverage for an average of 20 events per-season, and NBC broadcasts weekend coverage for an average of 10 events per-season. Golf Channel broadcasts early-round and weekend morning coverage of all events, as well as weekend coverage of events not broadcast on terrestrial television, and primetime encores of all events. Tournaments typically featured in NBC's package include marquee events such as The Players Championship, the final three tournaments of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and the biennial Presidents Cup event. The 2011 contract granted more extensive digital rights, as well as the ability for NBC to broadcast supplemental coverage of events on Golf Channel during its broadcast windows. On December 16, 2019, it was reported that the PGA Tour had reached an agreement in principle to renew its existing contracts with CBS and NBC through 2030, maintaining the existing broadcast arrangements, but with coverage of the final three playoff tournaments alternating annually between CBS and NBC (rather than having them exclusive to NBC).
At the end of each year, the top 125 in FedEx Cup points (top 125 on the money list before 2013) receive a tour card for the following season, which gives them exemption from qualifying for most of the next year's tournaments. However, at some events, known as invitationals, exemptions apply only to the previous year's top 70 players. Since 2013, players who are ranked between 126–200 in FedEx Cup points (and are not already exempt by other means) are eligible for entry in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, where they can regain their PGA Tour privileges. Non-exempt players who finish 126th-150th in the FedEx Cup but fail to regain their PGA Tour cards are given conditional PGA Tour status for the season and are fully exempt on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Three of the four majors take place in eight weeks between June and August. In the past, this has threatened to make the last 2-1/2 months of the season anti-climactic, as some of the very top players competed less from that point on. In response, the PGA Tour has introduced a new format, the FedEx Cup. From January through mid-August players compete in "regular season" events and earn FedEx Cup points, in addition to prize money. At the end of the regular season, the top 125 FedEx Cup points winners are eligible to compete in the "playoffs", four events taking place from mid-August to mid-September. The field sizes for these events are reduced from 125 to 100 to 70 and finally the traditional 30 for the Tour Championship. Additional FedEx Cup points are earned in these events. At the end of the championship, the top point winner is the season champion. To put this new system into place, the PGA Tour has made significant changes to the traditional schedule.
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Due to the multiplicity of names, there is often confusion as to what the PGA Tour organization does and does not run. Of the events in the PGA Tour schedule, it does not run any of the four major championships (the Masters Tournament, the U.S. Open, The Open Championship and the PGA Championship), or the Ryder Cup. The PGA of America, not the PGA Tour, runs the PGA Championship, the Senior PGA Championship, and co-organizes the Ryder Cup with Ryder Cup Europe, a company controlled by the PGA European Tour. Additionally, the PGA Tour is not involved with the women's golf tours in the U.S., which are mostly controlled by the LPGA. The PGA Tour is also not the governing body for the game of golf in the United States; this, instead, is the role of the United States Golf Association (USGA), which organizes the U.S. Open. What the PGA Tour does organize are the remaining 43 (in 2009) week-to-week events, including The Players Championship and the FedEx Cup events, as well as the biennial Presidents Cup. It also runs the main tournaments on five other tours: PGA Tour Champions, the Korn Ferry Tour (formerly known as Web.com Tour), PGA Tour Canada, PGA Tour China, and PGA Tour Latinoamérica.
The Rookie of the Year award was also introduced in 1990. Players are eligible in their first season of PGA Tour membership if they competed in less than seven events from any prior season. Several of the winners had a good deal of international success before their PGA Tour rookie season, and some have been in their thirties when they won the award. In March 2012, a new award, the PGA Tour Courage Award, was introduced in replacement of the defunct Comeback Player of the Year award.